It moves us, it shapes us, it creates movements.
What am I talking about? Writing, of course.
Words can heal hearts and tear countries apart. What else has that power?
Writing changes lives and in many cases, it saves them too. Recently I shared the very personal story of receiving an email from an incredible person who read my article on depression. This person shared with me they chose not to end their life that day as a result of reading my words.
And as I write this, tears line my eyes. This moment was huge for me. Up until that point, I hadn't given writing and its power enough credit.
Words are powerful. And so many of us want to call ourselves writers. But what constitutes a writer? Qualifications, education, experience...? All of the above? None?
I've now reached a tipping point where I've been writing for more than half my life. I realize we're talking language not math here, but for clarity -- I'm 31 and my writing has been published since the age of 15.
I would never be so arrogant to say I have all the answers and of course this topic is incredibly subjective, but in my experience, there are many signs informing you that you are indeed destined to to string words together during your time on this blue and green orb. Here are seven of them.
Writing is healing for you
"I have to write, for my own mental health. I need to write," is a phrase uttered by the incredible Ms. J.K. Rowling during an interview with the equally brilliant Oprah. When writing heals you and you feel your life spilling out onto the page, it's a sure sign this is your calling, especially when your work heals others too. That sounds rather heavy, doesn't it? But here's what it sounds like, "Thank you for writing this, it really resonated with me." Or, "I went through this too, thank you for talking about it." It's a thing of beauty.
When you write, your passage of time changes
No, you're not in the Matrix - you're just writing. There's a strange shift that takes place when you're engaged in an activity you love. It feels as though time stands still, yet simultaneously hours whiz by without you having any concept of the time. If this happens when you're drafting your article, manuscript or your own personal creative piece, it's an incredibly good omen.
You feel a strong urge to write
You're in the shower and you're struck with the best idea for a story! You race out of the shower, water dripping along the bathroom tiles, as you reach for your iPhone and type away the words into your Notes app before it slips away into the ethers. This doesn't happen to none-writers. Trust me.
You become lost in fictional worlds
For as long as I can remember I found myself completely swept away by powerful fiction. As a kid, I would watch a movie with my family in the summer holidays and spend the entire car journey home with the window down, the wind blowing through my hair as I remained lost in the fictional world I had watched play out on the screen. This would continue for hours after the credits had rolled. The same is true for me today - strongly scripted TV shows and movies have the ability to impact me in a way nothing else does. And so here I find myself in the final run of completing my first novel, and it's no surprise that my characters feel like very real, fully fleshed out human beings in my heart and my mind.
You feel deeply
Similarly, you feel emotions so deep within you that it easily translates to your writing. You may even label yourself as an "empath." If you're not familiar with this term, there are many signs. Feeling incredibly upset by violence and tragedies, experiencing overwhelm in busy places due to the emotions of others, and having a strong gut feeling that consistently proves itself to be true, are just three of them. For me, feeling deeply also means there are songs I simply can't listen to because they move me to tears. If this sounds like you, it's entirely possible your writing has the very same impact on others.
You engage in automatic writing
Last summer, my friend and spiritual guru Kim Williams were having one of our many catch-ups, and she asked me if I ever use automatic writing. When I asked for an explanation of the term, she explained it's when you're in "flow," and you write intuitively. You don't agonize over words because your brain isn't actively engaged in the activity. You swear the writing is coming from something outside of yourself. When I heard this, I replied, "Yeah... I write like this a good 90% of the time." "Honey, you realize that's not normal??" she lovingly joked. Turns out... it isn't! Now, that's not to say writer's block isn't a real thing - but if words flow onto the page without much effort on your part, chances are this is your gift to the world.
You ask yourself, "Am I a writer?"
Okay this one is a little cheeky of me. But here's the thing -- none-writers don't ask themselves this question. You don't find a potato farmer in Idaho asking themselves, "Gee, I wonder if I'm a writer?" It's only those of us who find joy in words who ponder this.
As to the answer to the question - I'll leave that for you to decide, my fellow word-lover!
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